While you're bogged down in "A" theories, take a second to wrap your head around this, because you know you've thought about it once or twice before. Ever since Pretty Little Liars Season 5 premiered, we've all been wondering whether or not Alison DiLaurentis brought this all upon herself because she is stone, cold evil. I mean, that stunt she pulled in the police station was pretty screwed up, right? But what if she weren't evil at all? The more we see of Ali in Season 5, the more I see a character that's not actually a spawn of Satan — if you can believe that.
My biggest complaint about Alison DiLaurentis as a character from Day 1 was that she was blatantly the shittiest person and friend of all time. I mean, she fat-shamed Hanna any chance she got and she did her best to keep her friends beneath her at all times. I hardly believed her story in the Season 4 finale because, as a PLL fan, why should I? The fact that she wasn't really dead and she'd forced her friends and family to mourn her for all of this time, only to come back and wreak more havoc on their lives didn't make it seem like she deserved to be welcomed back with open arms. Basically, my opinion of Alison has never been very high — I just can't get behind someone that purposely kept her friends from being friends with anyone other than her.
But when "EscApe From New York" aired at the start of Season 5, I realized that maybe I'd missed the point — hopefully I'm not the only one here. Or, if I hadn’t missed the point, that Alison had changed drastically from who she was before she left Rosewood. (Doubtful.) When Spencer, Hanna, and Emily are talking about a Picky Eaters-type series that they’ve been watching, Ali feels left out and gets jealous of her friends not focusing solely on her in this moment. So, to make herself seem important or mysterious and to put her friends back on guard, she hastily tells them that she needs to make a phone call. Alone.
It's kind of sad when you think about it, but even though it put some suspicions back in my mind, the moment confirmed a lot about how I felt about Alison DiLaurentis. She’s not evil, she’s just lonely and wildly insecure. All of this trouble Ali’s found herself in came from trying to make it seem like she was more interesting than she actually is. Ali created this larger-than-life persona for herself — and treated her friends, family, and everyone else like complete crap — because she didn’t know how else to interact with them. She felt like she needed to control everyone around her because she was afraid that they wouldn’t like or stick around her otherwise.
Those are some deep, deep insecurity issues right there. Ali didn’t feel like she could be herself, she didn’t feel like she could be a good friend, and she definitely didn’t feel like she could be a good person because she didn’t think that was good enough. We saw it in the moment where she felt the need to pretend she had read Tender is the Night so that Ezra would talk to her. But can we fault her for that? Probably, but that doesn’t make her evil; it just makes her misunderstood and misguided. Which, as a teenager (sometimes I forget the liars are supposed to be high school students), is something that everyone goes through. So, even though I want to, I can’t dismiss her as being the mastermind behind this whole saga just yet.
There are also some things you just can’t fake — like Ali’s fear when she heard Jason coming into her room on her first night back in Rosewood. She’s scared and, in that moment, she didn’t have anyone watching her to convince that she’s telling the truth about her “A” situation. And that fear-factor — whether it comes from Jason DiLaurentis or “A” — explains a lot about her behavior, too. Ali bullied plenty of people during her Rosewood heyday, but, like she explained in the Season 4 finale, she did a lot of that to get information she needed. She bullied and blackmailed her way through all of the main suspects in the “Who is “A”?” mystery, not because it was fun to see them squirm — even though she played it off that way — but because she was terrified by who or what was coming for her. And she was trying desperately to keep the upper hand.
Even when it came to her mother’s death, I don’t think Ali was really trying to make a statement by wearing her mother’s dress. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d hung around her own funeral to take notes about what she’d want different at the real one. But honestly, even though her mother let her get bludgeoned to death, Ali was still grasping for that sense of being loved and feeling loved. After all of this crap, I’m not surprised that she’d want to make a creepy statement — if that’s what she was trying to do.
Whether or not Alison DiLaurentis has changed since she’s been on the run or if she’s as evil deep down as she seems remains to be seen in Season 5. But the more time Ali spends in Rosewood without running, the more we’re seeing of what’s underneath the surface of the girl who seduced college boys, blackmailed parents, and kept each of her friends in a separate orbit around her. And it’s getting easier to understand that she’s not a ruthless tyrant, but just someone who’s desperately trying to be adored.